She was 2 1/2 hours away. It seemed impossible! How could she have driven that long, and that far, without noticing something was wrong? And stop for gas along the way? And not notice it was dark! It was 9:00 pm before we even knew she hadn't come home.
She had not recognized the road to turn into Walmart and just kept right on going. My mother-in-law was having memory issues, and if my husband had not finally reached her she would have continued on her way thinking she would reach Walmart eventually. My father-in-law is blind and has memory issues of his own so although we have visually impaired helps in place, he still gets confused at times. My cell phone is never turned off -- ever.
Of all days for my husband and I to take the day off and come home late.
So ... the long night had begun. We talked to the manager of the Taco Bell where my mother-in-law was parked to see if she was still there and then called the police to check on her. (not easy when there are sooo many Taco Bells on the same street in a large metropolitan area!)
What we didn't know, was the Taco Bell was getting ready to close and my mother-in-law was going to have a long wait alone -- outside.
Within the first hour of our journey I called the manager again, who was patient and kind, to make sure my mother-in-law was still there. She said, "Oh yes, we have her waiting here inside and I fixed her up some tacos. We're just cleaning up to close ... how long are you going to be?"
It was a long, thoughtful, quiet drive.
And there she was, shrouded by the lighting, her back to the window. I wondered what she was thinking?
We certainly thanked the manager and asked her who we could contact to commend her for her care and concern. I felt for her -- stuck with the graveyard shift -- a dangerous time of the evening -- and I could see the struggle on her face. I hugged her and told her as we left I would be praying for her and I would pray God would bring blessings into her life this coming new year.
And on the way home I thought about the lifestyle this kind person emanated. The few teeth missing, the slight aura of uncleanliness, the ill-fitted clothing, the effort to appear 'better' than she believed she was, and so I did, right then, prayed that God would help her, bless her in some way, and to bring someone into her life to reach her heart. Someone, who in some way, would be a witness.
The Whisper came close, quiet, deep in my heart ... "I just did."
I held my breath a second as I tried to blink away the tears blurring my vision. It was dark, it was raining, it was after midnight and we were on a dimly lit stretch of an expanded rural road. My husband was driving my mother-in-law's car in front of my van to guide me because I don't see well at night to drive. It was not a good time for tears. Especially with my mother-in-law in the passenger's seat in my care.
We talked of familiar surroundings ... of horses and white fences along the track.
Low and quiet I heard her say, "It feels good to know where you are, doesn't it?"